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The discharge of a service weapon is a use of deadly force and is subject to evaluation under the guidelines set forth in the Department’s current general order entitled Response To Threats, which is posted on the website. Any use of deadly force and its justification are legally required to be evaluated in the backdrop of that general order and on the total set of circumstances that resulted in its use. Officers receive extensive training in response to threats and the use of deadly force.
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The Shaker Heights Police Department has actively participated in restorative justice exercises in connection with both our Community Diversion Program and with the Shaker Heights school system. Information on officer training in the areas of unconscious bias and anti-racism for the last five years is available on the City’s website. As part of the City’s Diversity Equity and Inclusion work, Council and the Management Team have participated in a training session with Erica Merritt from Equius Group. Additional sessions are being scheduled.
Full question: Aside from Prosecutor Keller and bias free training, who develops the curriculum for each substantive training area that Shaker officers are required to attend? To what extent does the Department rely on OPOTA for the training of its officers?
Answer: Our officers attend a vast array of annual training from an equally vast array of sources and resources. The sources and resources for the development of curriculum do include OPOTA, various other national and state training entities, as well as internal instruction from supervisors or other officers that are certified instructors in the training subject matter.
Full question: The Department’s website talks about bias-free training including classes, roll-call meetings and handouts. How much active training (as opposed to passive reading or listening to a lecture) is required of officers annually? What kind of additional training do officers receive on trauma-responsiveness, de-escalation, mental health issues, etc? How are these trainings evaluated for effectiveness?
Answer: While some of our training occurs in classroom settings, the Department also utilizes several other forums. We utilize role play and dynamic simulation training. The annual flagship training course on bias free policing has a significant amount of interactive participation, requiring officers to participate in scenario-based examples during which they participate in panel discussions and focus groups. Officers are frequently asked to advocate and comment on positions other than that of law enforcement to ensure they fully understand different perspectives on any given situation.
Mental health, stress and trauma, and de-escalation are circumstances that are continuously and regularly included in and related to our bias free police training and in several other training areas and exercises.
Our training effectiveness is evaluated during our biannual evaluation by CALEA, our national accreditation organization. CALEA sets several benchmarks associated with bias-free policing that we must meet to maintain our accreditation. We also have maintained compliance with the Ohio Collaborative recommendations in this area of policing. Currently, we are looking at the myriad of suggested reforms and input about bias free policing.
Lastly, we evaluate our effectiveness based on the number of complaints we receive pertaining to biased behavior in a citizen-police encounter.
Full question: In many fields there is required continuing education. How is the Shaker Heights Police Department and administration continuing their education on racial and social disparities? Is everyone required to read books like “How to be an Anti-Racist” or “White Fragility”, etc.”?
Answer: Continuing professional education is mandated by policy within our Department. As outlined by on our website, much of this training is centered on racial and social disparities. When the opportunity arises, we do watch movies and documentaries that help to illuminate these issues. For example, we recently watched the documentary 13th, which gave officers a whole new understanding of the 13th amendment. Our officers have not been required to read the books mentioned in this question.
All records related to Departmental training are lawfully available via a public records request.
Officer re-instruction is informally handled through supervisory counseling sessions. More formally it is handled through documentation on performance evaluations of areas in need of training and how that training is received, which includes individualized Performance Improvement Plans.